On 31 January, the final day for Self Assessment taxpayers to submit their returns, HMRC employees will be staging strikes.
Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) will carry out ‘lightning walk-outs’ during the day. The union says the government is laying the foundations for part privatisation following the appointment of two private companies to carry out call handling. Some 20,000 PCS members carried out similar industrial action on 16 January.
How will this affect me?
It is thought that the walkout will make it more difficult for taxpayers to get in touch with advisors. According to HMRC around 15 per cent of those who submit their tax return on the final day need to speak to an HMRC employee.
HMRC has indicated that as a result, no fines will be charged for returns that are submitted on 1 or 2 February. The deadline has effectively been extended until midnight on 2 February.
What if I get fined?
It is unclear how this waiver will work. It is perfectly possible that taxpayers will still receive the fines, but will then have to appeal them.
If you receive a fine, you need to appeal in writing. You must do so within 30 days of the date on which HMRC advises you of their decision or sends you a penalty notice. If you get a penalty notice you should use the form attached. You should explain the situation, making sure to point out that you believe your inability to contact an advisor falls within HMRC’s definition of a “reasonable excuse”.
If you are in any doubt about your tax responsibilities you should seek professional advice.
Read some Self Assessment tips.
Read more about Self Assessment deadlines.